I was reading about the parallels between Mr. Pickwick and Don Quixote in this great article and it got me thinking about the word, “quixotic”. Both “The Pickwick Papers” and “Don Quixote” are considered to be great quixotic novels, which basically means that they are both about idealistic gentlemen who embark on noble adventures which backfire in silly ways.
The similarity between the name Quixote and the word “quixotic” finally dawned on me as I was reading this article, and reading further, I learned that Don Quixote was the first origin of the word. I’ve always thought the word, “quixotic” was pretty awesome (phonetically and also in Scrabble) and so I was surprised and excited to finally put together this connection.
I was curious to further learn the etymology of the word and so I looked it up in the Oxford English Dictionary. According to the OED, the first example of the word “quixotic” as an adjective appeared in 1718 when N. Amhurst wrote, “Pulpit and Press ficticious Ills engage, And combat Windmills with Quixotic Rage,” in his book, “Protestant Popery’.
Pretty neat! My next endeavor is to see if Dickens ever used the word in any of his writings, so stay tuned.
Oxford English Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Online, http://personales.ya.com/quijotepickwick/English.html